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Gwen Jorgensen leaves triathlon for marathon

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Gwen Jorgensen is leaving triathlon as the Olympic champion to pursue a gold medal in the marathon.

“It’s a huge risk to switch sports right now, when I’m arguably at the top and could make more money than I’ve ever made in triathlon,” the 31-year-old said. “However, I am motivated by a new challenge. Triathlon picked me, and now I’m picking marathon.”

Jorgensen, who announced the news on social media, accomplished everything she wanted in triathlon — Olympic and world titles and the longest winning streak since the sport was added to the Games in 2000.

Her new goal is to win a World Marathon Major like Boston, Chicago or New York City and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Her last race before her recent pregnancy was actually her marathon debut in New York City on Nov. 6, 2016. The former University of Wisconsin runner was 14th in 2 hours, 41 minutes, 1 second, more than 16 minutes behind the winner.

Jorgensen was disappointed.

She was also unprepared. Her buildup was triathlon training. Her longest run before toeing the line in Staten Island was 16 miles. The weekend before New York, she won a three-day triathlon stage race totaling 64 miles of swimming, biking and running in the Bahamas.

Jorgensen announced in January that she would take the entire 2017 triathlon season off to have a child. Stanley Lemieux was born Aug. 16. Jorgensen will figure out her 2018 race schedule once she is able to train at least 100 miles per week (she’s barely able to crack 30 miles two months after giving birth).

Few athletes leave at the top of their sport, in their prime, to pursue a different sport.

Michael Jordan is the notable exception, retiring from the NBA at age 30 in 1993 to try baseball after winning three straight NBA titles.

Jorgensen was just as dominant in triathlon. She won a record 13 straight top-level events — going undefeated for nearly two years — en route to becoming the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion in Rio.

Her original goal was to defend that title in Tokyo, but the last year brought changes. The New York City Marathon. A move to Portland, Ore. The pregnancy and her first child.

“My time away from triathlon allowed me to reflect and set new goals,” Jorgensen said. “My biggest passion has always been running out of swim/bike/run, and I also feel this isn’t the first big challenge I’ve had before.”

That’s true. Jorgensen didn’t know the difference between 1500m and a mile when she started running her junior year at Wisconsin after walking onto the Badgers swim team as a freshman. She became an NCAA All-American the following year.

She had never ridden a triathlon bike when USA Triathlon recruited her to the sport eight years ago, away from an Ernst & Young accounting job. She qualified for her first Olympics two years later.

“I’ve had a few different athletic pursuits that started out not so great and ended OK,” she said.

Jorgensen will miss the relationships she built in triathlon. Her coach, Jamie Turner of New Zealand. Her training group in Australia, the Wollongong Wizards.

But she is no longer motivated to continue in Olympic-distance triathlons. Other Olympians moved to Ironman triathlons, but Jorgensen always swore that off.

“The major reason I’m trying to do marathon is because I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish in triathlon,” she said. “If I hadn’t gotten that gold [in Rio], it definitely would have been a failure. I remember going into the Olympics thinking if I get silver or bronze, it’s a failure.”

Jorgensen first mentioned to Turner that she had marathon ambitions about three years ago, but they were put aside until after Rio.

Now, after so many changes in the last year, come more. Jorgensen knows she must find a group training atmosphere to succeed, like what worked with Turner in Wollongong.

Other Olympic triathlon medalists have run marathons.

Swiss Nicola Spirig ran three between winning triathlon gold in 2012 (and giving birth to a boy in 2013) and silver in 2016. She clocked 2:37, 2:42 and 2:46.

Portugal’s Vanessa Fernandes shared triathlon’s longest top-level international winning streak before Jorgensen strung together 13 wins in a row. After an Olympic silver in 2008, Fernandes left triathlon for good in 2011 and clocked a 2:31 marathon in 2015.

Jorgensen knows that she must drop about 15 minutes from her 2016 New York City Marathon time to be competitive on the world level.

“Which seems ridiculous, but at the same time, I think I can do it,” she said. “It’s risky, and I think some people can look at it and probably think I’m being silly. Actually, I have some family members who think I should stay in the sport of triathlon. But, for me, I’m really motivated right now by trying something new and doing this running thing and seeing if I can do it.”

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Ironman World Championship record falls; Olympic champ struggles

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German Patrick Lange broke the Ironman World Championships course record by two minutes, winning the 140-mile triathlon in 8 hours, 1 minute, 40 seconds in Hawaii on Saturday.

Lange, 31, prevailed by 2:27 over Canadian Lionel Sanders, whom Lange overtook with about three miles left of the marathon in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island.

Swiss Daniela Ryf, who finished seventh and 40th in two Olympic triathlons, won her third straight women’s title in 8:50:47. It’s the second-fastest female time ever behind her 8:46:46 from last year.

Full results are here.

The world’s best endurance triathletes covered 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking and 26.2 miles running as the temperature neared 90 degrees. Racing began at 6:35 a.m.

Lange took the course record from Australian Craig Alexander, who clocked 8:03:56 in winning the last of his three titles in 2011.

He did so by crushing the run, just as he did en route to a third-place finish in 2016.

Lange was 11th after the bike, more than 10 minutes behind, but ran a 2:39:59 marathon, just off his run course record of 2:39:45 from last year.

He ran the final mile in 5:37.

Lange also ended the reign of countryman Jan Frodeno, the 2008 Olympic triathlon gold medalist.

Frodeno, eyeing an Ironman three-peat, struggled mightily on the run with what appeared to be a leg injury. Frodeno, fourth after the bike, was still on the run course with several miles left after the top 25 men finished.

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Olympics add 3-on-3 basketball, mixed-gender swimming, track events

FIBA 3-on-3
FIBA
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Three-on-three basketball will make its Olympic debut in 2020. Swimming, track and field and triathlon will also debut mixed-gender relays.

The IOC executive board finalized the Tokyo Olympic program, announced on Friday. It added 15 more medal events, including doubling mixed-gender events from nine to 18. The Olympic program for 2020 will be 339 medal events, up from 306 in Rio.

The IOC called the changes more youthful, urban and female focused. The IOC hopes to one day have an even split of 50 percent male and 50 percent female athletes. There were about 45 percent female athletes in Rio.

The IOC previously added five sports to the 2020 Olympics in August — baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.

There are three new swimming events — a mixed 4x100m medley relay, men’s 800m freestyle and women’s 1500m freestyle, all of which are held at the world championships.

Katie Ledecky, who swept the 200m, 400m and 800m frees in Rio, also swept the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees at the 2015 Worlds. This boosts her bid to potentially tie the female record of six gold medals at a single Olympics (Kristin Otto, 1988), when including relays.

There is one new track and field event — a mixed 4x400m relay, which is held at the IAAF World Relays.

Three-on-three basketball was on the Youth Olympic program in 2010 and 2014. FIBA has held World Championships (also called World Cups) in the discipline since 2012.

It’s unknown if NBA players would take part in Olympic 3-on-3. IOC sports director Kit McConnell said 3-on-3 players will be “specialists” without providing more specifics Friday.

No U.S. 3-on-3 players at worlds or the Youth Olympics has played an NBA game. Some played at Division I programs such as Connecticut and Gonzaga.

Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, the UConn women’s top two scorers last season, earned 3-on-3 gold at the 2014 Youth Olympics.

Three-on-three is a half-court, one-basket game with two teams of four players (one sub). Typically, game time is 10 minutes or first team to 21 points.

The 2020 Olympic 3-on-3 tournaments will include eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams.

FIBA said it will announce qualification procedures and a competition format at a later date.

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EVENTS – Additions unless specified
Events
Sport Event #
Aquatics (Swimming) 800m (M) & 1500m (W) +2
4x100m Medley Mixed Relay +1
Archery Mixed Team Event +1
Athletics 4x400m Mixed Relay +1
Basketball 3×3 (M/W) +2
Boxing Transfer of two men’s events to two women’s events 0
Canoe Transfer of three men’s events to three women’s events 0
Cycling (BMX) BMX Freestyle Park (M/W) +2
Cycling (Track) Madison (M/W) +2
Fencing Team Events (M/W) +2
Judo Mixed Team Event +1
Rowing Transfer of one men’s event to one women’s event 0
Sailing Transfer of Mixed Multihull to Mixed Foiling Multihull 0
Shooting Transfer of three men’s events to mixed events 0
Table Tennis Mixed Doubles +1
Triathlon Mixed Team Relay +1
Weightlifting Reduction of one  men’s weight category -1